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16-11-2011 | General practice | Article

Flu jabs for all children ruled out


JCVI Statement

Government advisors have ruled out a proposal to vaccinate all children against influenza for the time being.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) concluded that more evidence is needed on the wider benefits of vaccinating healthy children against flu.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley asked the JCVI to look into the approach, after a Health Protection Agency report suggested that it could be a cost-effective way to reduce flu transmission.

But the JCVI says that, while the research was "well-conducted and robust", further data are needed on the availability of flu vaccines that offer improved protection in children, the impact on GPs and schools and the likely take-up rate.

The Government's Director of Immunisation, Professor David Salisbury, said: "Extending the vaccination programme to all healthy children under 17 would be a huge undertaking, increasing the number of people who get the vaccine, so it is important that we get this decision absolutely right."

He said the JCVI is particularly interested in the potential of a vaccine that is given as nose drops, rather than by injection.

"We need to understand from vaccine manufacturers how and when they would be able to produce the vaccine in the quantities we need."

Professor Salisbury stressed that in the meantime, the priority is to ensure maximum take-up of the flu jab among over-65s and those in clinical at-risk groups.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price